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PageRank Demystified

PageRank (PR) is one of the most enticing, and misunderstood, metrics in the SEO world.

That one little number that means so much to webmasters is based on a complicated algorithm that’s barely comprehensible to the average person. While your PR is a number that’s easy to hang your hat on, it’s regularly both misinterpreted and seriously misunderstood.

Google only adds to the confusion with their steady stream of updates and rule changes that make a site’s PR lurch radically over the course of time.

To help burn off the haze around PR, here are a few facts every affiliate should know about this important subject.

What is PageRank Really?

PageRank is a numerical factor assigned to each and every page that Google search bots spider. Though PR is expressed as 1-10, the actual number can be many decimals deep.

Remember, the PR you see on the Toolbar Page is an approximation of the actual rank and has been rounded off. In general, you should think of this number as a guide, rather than an absolute.

Like just about every other element of Google’s algorithm empire, the exact elements that go into configuring PR are kept secret. What is generally accepted is that PR is based, in part, on the pages it links to and from.

PageRank Doesn’t Matter (Except When it Does)

With the rise of social signals and other changes to the SEO ecosystem, some bloggers and forum posters have debated PR’s relevance and whether or not it still matters at all. The fact is that PR is still, pretty much, what it’s always been; one factor of many.

Because PageRank has been part of Google’s internal DNA since the company’s concepts were still just far-out thoughts in obscure academic journals, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. At the same time, factors like social shares, content quality and quality links, are constantly being added to the Google stew.

And that PR number you see on your Toolbar when evaluating potential link partners is not the be-all-end-all. A writer at the atrociously named, actually put it best when he said:

The truth is Google’s algorithm is far too complicated to contain such a simple result of an out of ten ranking.

You Are Not Your PageRank
One last thing to remember about PR is that it evaluates single pages, not entire websites.

At the end of the day, PR is just one more evaluational tool in Google’s massive tool chest and webmasters and SEOs who understand its true place in the Google continuum, are better set to use it effectively.

What are your thoughts on PR? Is it something you look at every day, or is it just one number in a series of metrics you evaluate? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.